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Everyone inside a K-12 Kentucky school should be wearing a mask this fall, regardless of vaccination status, Kentucky Commissioner of Public Health Steven Stack and Gov. Andy Beshear said on Thursday.
Schools may also want to physical distance and take other steps, said Stack.
The recommendation, which mirrors updated federal guidance, represents a stronger emphasis on universal masking than Beshear made previously when he said that unvaccinated students should be wearing masks.
The recommendation for schools is not a mandate.
Beshear said the Delta variant is aggressively spreading across the United States. He said masks and vaccinations can help thwart it and kids can stay in school every day. Parents also can continue to go to work if children are in school, continuing “our unprecedented economic progress,” Beshear said.
Beshear said his priority was safe, in-person instruction for a maximum number of days.
“Will we do the right things?” he said. ”If we don’t do the right things in our schools we are going to have quarantines,” he said.
Beshear said if people are not going to start masking, they are going to see outbreaks.
Lexington-Fayette Public Health Commissioner Kraig Humbaugh said Wednesday night in a new recommendation that everyone inside a Fayette public school, including all students in kindergarten through 12th grade, should be wearing a mask this fall.
Fayette County Public School officials haven’t yet announced a decision on mask wearing when school starts Aug. 11.
“We will follow current CDC guidance to recommend universal masking for all K-12 schools indoors. State officials are also reviewing the guidance,” Humbaugh said Wednesday.
Tuesday afternoon, federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials made a new recommendation saying all students, staff and visitors to K-12 schools should wear a mask when students resume in-person learning, regardless of whether they were fully vaccinated.
Some Kentucky school district officials --including those in Ballard County and Murray Independent -- previously announced they are not going to require masks in the classroom this fall. Beshear said districts should consider science and follow CDC and state guidance or they are going to have quarantines and forfeited athletic games.
He said that districts that don’t follow the CDC and state guidelines regarding masking could face liability.
Some Lexington private and parochial school officials expect to announce their mask policies for 2021-2022 next week.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health released new guidance Thursday for schools on recommended masking guidelines ahead of the 2021-2022 school year.
The document recommends everyone in a K-12 setting wear a mask when indoors, and that students should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with “layered prevention strategies” in place.
The recommended “layered prevention strategies” include vaccination for those 12 or older; masks for all persons while indoors; physical distancing of at least 3 feet; screening testing for unvaccinated individuals; ventilation; handwashing and facility disinfection; and isolation, quarantine and contact tracing.